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Starry Starry Night – an ode to grief 

Death, a character in the graphic novel “Starry Starry Night” (Duckbill, Penguin)has a surprisingly reassuring presence in this book written by Nandita Basu. about two people dealing with grief. The Protagonists, Kunal and Tara are both grappling with grief in their own way. 

Kunal has lost his mother and is now sent to a boarding school in the hills. Tara is his father’s cousin, and she teaches a special music program in the school where Kunal will be studying in. She is coming to terms with the death of her best friend. Both are dealing with a deep sense of loss and grief.

Kunal stays with Tara until he is ready to move to a hostel. Death, as a character, whom Tara sees and talks to is introduced very early on in the book. As we follow the story, with little twists and turns of the plot, we are participants in the healing journey. Both Kunal and Tara discover their own ways of healing, and yet, an unassuming friendship and a deep bond between them emerges, again helping them navigate these difficult emotions. The story shows how merely holding space is someones so effective!

The illuminating power of art and music also shines out very brightly in this book. The reader sees that grief looks different for different people, and that it takes its own time for individuals to make sense of their loss. Starry Starry Night also shows how expressive arts, be it painting or music, hold an eternal key to sooth the human soul. 

I think Starry Starry Night is apt to read and discuss in academic settings such as schools. It will provide a lot of scope for discussion in book clubs. It lends itself to the teen and young adult readership, and I also believe that adults will enjoy the book as well. As a psychologist, I would definitely recommend this book to clients who may have experienced loss and are dealing with grief. I believe it would be a starting point to explore feelings about death.

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.